Editor's Note: Zach Rowe has now gone back to school for his senior year of college at St. Mary's College of Maryland and is getting back into his routine for the school year. As the rest of us get back into our versions of the school year, seemed like a fitting time to talk about habits and routines!
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s Badges for Baseball Coaches Manual outlines 12 lessons in detail for how to build uncommon character “The Ripken Way.” As I was reading the manual myself, one of the lessons stood out to me. That lesson is lesson 9 – Developing Good Life Habits.
As a college baseball player, my life is built around certain habits, or routines. Baseball in general is a sport that is built around routines. For example, every player has a certain routine for how they warm-up before practice or games and every coach has their own routine for their teams practice or pregame warm-up. Players and coaches believe in their routines so much that it becomes a fundamental part of their being. When these routines are broken, there is a feeling of discomfort that comes with it. Something just feels off. That is because these routines were all created with a common goal: to help them perform at the best of their abilities.
Here is an example of my routine: I always lift weights two days before a game during the season. I also make sure I eat a big dinner on these nights because that will give me most of my energy for the game. On the day before a game, I do a light cardio workout and light shoulder exercises to prime my body for competition the next day. The night before a game, I always fall asleep to a baseball game (dreaming of baseball is never a bad idea). The next day, I will eat the same pregame meal, depending on the time of the game (either a ham, egg, cheese sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). At the field before the game, I stretch with my team, then I do a little extra running and stretching on my own right before game time. Before I hit, I have the same warm-up routine in the on deck circle. I do a special handshake with teammate before I play the field, and I always sing the national anthem out loud.
My routine that I just outlined for you may have sounded extreme, but every single thing I stated has a purpose. The individual habits make up my routine, and focusing on each part of the routine keeps me focused on baseball during the season, not on other distractions that exist on a college campus. Everything I do prepares me mentally, physically, and emotionally to compete at the highest level possible.
This is where lesson 9 of the Badges for Baseball Coaches Manual comes into play. Having a routine in life can keep kids focused on their goals. These goals can be anything, from athletic goals like becoming faster, to academic goals like getting into college. Whatever the goal may be, picking specific habits to focus on will create a routine that a kid can believe to be successful. The routine itself will turn into a habit, or even a way of life, that will bring about a feeling of discomfort if the routine is broken. It will be a self-correcting mechanism for that kid to stay on track to achieving a specific goal. The Badges for Baseball Coaches Manual states, “Good habits become just as hard to break as bad habits.” So help and encourage your kids to have their own routines to achieve their goals!